A Delta charter flight carrying the US basketball team Oklahoma City Thunder from Minneapolis to Chicago suffered significant damage to its radome on descent to Chicago’s Midway Airport. According to airline, the aircraft likely experienced a bird strike.

A bump in the night

Player Carmelo Anthony posted a photo of the damage to Instagram.

A Delta statement that the likely bird strike occurred during the approach to Chicago. Here’s the track of the flight. Playback and additional data may be viewed here. The flight was operated by a Boeing 757-200 registered N650DL. Delta says the aircraft is currently undergoing inspection by maintenance personnel.

Flight track of DL8935

Engineered for safety

Nose cones on the front of the aircraft are designed to safely withstand the impact of birds likely to be encountered during flight. On most commercial aircraft the nose cone also acts as a radome, protecting the on board weather radar.

A look at the weather radar under the radome of an Avianca A319

Birdstrikes are not uncommon and commercial aircraft are designed and tested to withstand wildlife impacts to areas like the radome, windscreen, wings, and engines so that when bird strikes do occur, the aircraft can continue to operate safely.

A KLM 737 ingesting a bird into its left engine while approaching Amsterdam

Wildlife at airports

Airports also work to ensure that feathered birds and metal birds stay as far apart as possible.

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